Rondino in E-Flat for Wind Octet, WoO 25 (mp3)

Rondino in E-Flat for Wind Octet, WoO 25 (mp3)
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Performer: Willem
Length: 5:07
Rondino in E Flat for Wind Octet, WoO 25
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Author: Willem
Length: 5:05
Rondino for eight wind-instruments in E-flat, WoO 25.

Picture by courtesy of Donna Dralle.

More of her work can be found at

This is an amazing, early masterpiece. It dates probably from between 1790 and 1792. It is full of subtle details, demanding the utmost of the players at the time, the virtuosity always being at the service of expression. The sound-texture is constantly changing, and in this respect WoO 25 resembles the late String Quartets.

The writing is at one level with Mozart's masterpieces for the same instruments (2 French horns, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets and 2 Bassoons), the Serenades KV.375 and 388. In all likelihood, these serenades were the inspiration for our Rondino. A real achievement for a composer so young!

The relationship of WoO 25 with the Octet opus 103 (in the same key and for the same instruments, and also dating from the Bonn period) is unclear. It has been suggested that this Rondino once served as finale for the Octet. However, the character and tempo (Andante) of WoO 25 don't seem to make for an appropriate finale. There is a recording of opus 103 by the wind-ensemble Octophorus, which does include WoO 25, not as finale, but as penultimate movement.

As the title "Rondino" suggests, it is in Rondo-form: A - B - A - C - A - coda.

The analysis in more detail:
A: bar 1 (begin of the midi). This section consists of 4 times 4 bars. The second phrase (bar 8) starts in the parallel minor. The last 4 bars repeat the melody of the beginning, but now scored for all instruments, and played forte. Because of the preceding minor, this repeat has a surprising radiance and majesty.

B: bar 17 (at the 0:39 mark of the midi) is mostly in C minor and betrays a dark restlessnes.

A: bar 41 (at 1:48). This is not a literal repeat of A: the melody, in the first clarinet, is altered, and the accompaniment even more so. Delicate triplets are exchanged between first oboe and first bassoon.

C: bar 57 (at 2:23) is scored for only the two horns and first bassoon. The initial phrase modulates from E-flat minor to D-flat major.

A: bar 78 (at 3:09) is even more altered than the recurrence at bar 41, but is still recognizable. Chromatic runs in the clarinet suggest the exotic odors of a summer's night; distant ducks disturb the silence with their quacking (forefalls in the oboes). Jaunty 32nd notes in the clarinet embellish the last 4 bars of this repeat.

Coda: bar 93 (at 3:44). The brilliant 32nd notes are taken up by the second horn! The head motif from A appears loosely in the first bassoon. At bar 108 the French horns play a variant of A "senza tempo", which means with extreme rubato. The horn-players are asked to put on and remove their sordinos almost every bar, creating the melancholy of an approaching farewell. At bar 114, "A" occurs in the other wind instrument with double note values, and sounds therefore twice as slow.

>>> Of course, you can also forget about all this, and just ENJOY THE MUSIC! <<<

WoO: 25

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